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10 Nov

Ryan Kalsi, Associate Vice President of Marketing at TD Bank, on how fostering a culture of curiosity, empowering colleagues, and innovating responsibly leads to effective marketing leadership with Mary Jane Ardron, Marketing Manager, TD Direct Investing.

Curiosity may kill cats, but for the modern Marketer curiosity is what fuels effective leadership.


“It is crucial to emphasize that curiosity, when coupled with integrity and creativity, can be a powerful driver of innovation and leadership” – Ryan Kalsi, Associate Vice President, TD Marketing

In the dynamic world of Marketing, effective leadership is the linchpin to collective success. In this article we’ll explore the insights shared by Ryan Kalsi, a seasoned marketing professional, shedding light on the essential qualities, experiences and advice that can guide aspiring leaders in this ever-evolving field.

Ryan Kalsi is leading by example as Marketing Associate Vice President for the TD Direct Investing portfolio. With over 19 years of industry experience, and 7 years leading a team, Kalsi shares 6 key traits that make an effective leader in Marketing today:

1. Strategic thinking

Strategic thinking is a core leadership trait for not only Kalsi but many leaders in Marketing. It is trait that requires the ability to be forward thinking, and an understanding of what steps need to be taken or barriers removed, to reach organizational goals. Strategic thinking can be honed and refined over time and with experience but critical to the success of any marketing leader. “Early experiences taught me the importance of empathy and active listening, while more senior roles reinforced the need for strategic thinking and adaptability”

2. Effective communication

Communication is key to effectively leading a team, not only communicating to the team clearly, regularly and encouraging collaboration, but members of that team also play a pivotal role in effective leadership, Kalsi says “Leaders need the support of the team to provide valuable feedback, contributing their creative ideas, and supporting the leader’s vision”. The team or leader can impact effective leadership if there is a lack of communication and trust.

3. Curiosity

Another invaluable leadership trait is Curiosity. Curiosity is a core attribute of many marketing leaders, but for Kalsi it is an innate leadership quality that has always motivated him to learn and grow. Curiosity has fueled him to explore innovative solutions, challenge status quo and drive efficiencies and shareholder value, all within ethical boundaries and the organizations risk appetite. Effective leaders are able to foster a culture of curiosity and continuous learning, and effectively motivate their team and fuel passion and enthusiasm; “Effective leaders in marketing today must champion creative thinking while upholding the highest ethical standards and fostering a culture of curiosity and continuous learning, ensuring that their teams innovate responsibly”

4. Adaptability

In an ever-evolving industry like Marketing, constant change may feel uncomfortable and challenging for many Marketers. For Kalsi, embracing and harnessing constant change is an opportunity for marketers today. Whether in a leadership role or leading in their role, he encourages his team to embrace change as an opportunity to drive efficiencies and growth by fostering a culture of curiosity and continuous learning. “My guidance would be to never stop learning, embrace change as an opportunity for creative growth and drive efficiencies”

5. Integrity

In a time where privacy, trust, and ethical advertising is top of mind, Kalsi states Integrity as a non-negotiable innate trait of effective marketing leaders today; “Integrity is at the core of my leadership, ensuring that ethical standards are maintained throughout my work.”

6. Creativity

Last but certainly not least is Creativity, an effective Marketing leader champions creative-thinking and are able to foster a culture of creativity and innovative thinking among their team and peers. Creativity is interconnected with the above traits most importantly with Curiosity, and something that is critical for future Marketers; “It is crucial to emphasize that curiosity, when coupled with integrity and creativity, can be a powerful driver of innovation and leadership”

In conclusion, effective leadership in Marketing requires a blend of innate traits and learned skills. Leadership can evolve over time and necessitates collaboration, adaptability and a commitment to ethical standards.

It is important to note that leadership ultimately is not confined to titles, Kalsi shares his belief that “leadership is not limited to those in a position of authority. Anyone can be a leader by taking responsibility, showing initiative, and making a positive impact in their sphere of influence.” Whether in a people leadership role or working towards it, it is important not to underestimate the influence you have in leading others, and to integrate these leadership qualities into your daily practice.

A final note to the future generation of Marketing Leaders:

“My guidance would be to never stop learning, embrace change as an opportunity for creative growth and drive efficiencies. Seek mentors who exemplify these values so that you can learn from them.

To be a successful leader, one must focus on improving oneself, develop a positive mindset, and cultivating good habits.

Approach your work with passion, enthusiasm, and a commitment to excellence. No matter what your role is, you can make a difference and contribute to the success of the organization you work for.”

Mary Jane Ardron, CM Candidate
Marketing Manager, TD Direct Investing


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